Monarch Caterpillar Morphs into Chrysalis

In the last week or so I finally starting seeing Monarch caterpillars on the milkweed in my pollinator garden. I counted about twenty in different instar states. Since then all the leaves of the milkweed have been eaten and the caterpillars have slinked off to find a safe place to hang out and morph into a chrysalis and eventually a butterfly. I was lucky enough to find one of the caterpillars in the classic “J” pose, ready to morph. The first video is filmed at normal speed so you can watch in detail the moments leading up to the emergence of the chrysalis. The second video compresses about 1/2 hour into about a minute and a half. Which ever video you watch, I recommend watching in 4k, full screen.

Queen Butterfly Metamorphosis

The Queen and Monarch butterfly season in my pollinator garden was pretty subdued this summer. Not sure if it was the dismal monsoon season with very little rain or other factors. I did manage to catch a couple stages of metamorphosis of a queen butterfly.

First, watch a queen caterpillar turn into a chrysalis:

And the next step is the fully developed butterfly emerging from its chrysalis:

Monarch Butterflies

The pollinator garden in my yard has been a pretty good place for Monarch butterflies. So far this summer I’ve counted a couple dozen Monarch caterpillars, a number of chrysalis’s and have seen about 15 butterflies successfully emerge. I was able to catch some of the action.

Monarch caterpillar:

Monarch, chrysalis to butterfly:

Caterpillar to Chrysalis

Queen Butterfly caterpillars are eating their way through the leaves on the milkweed plants in my yard.  This is just fine by me.  While I’ve been hoping for some Monarch Butterfly caterpillars to do the same, I have yet to see any.  As far as the Queen caterpillars go, several have already morphed into butterflies as, evidenced by the chrysalis skeletons left behind, while others have only just started.  Here’s a short video I made of the metamorphosis process at normal speed, from caterpillar to chrysalis:

Queen Butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

In this video I speed up the 45 minute process to two minutes:

caterpillar ~ chrysalis ~ butterfly

The queen butterfly chrysalis that I’ve been watching went through another stage of metamorphosis this morning (video below).

Queen butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Queen butterfly chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

This time from chrysalis (pupa) to butterfly. It took 9 days for the chrysalis to go through the cell growth and differentiation to become an adult butterfly. Visually, we can see the morphological changes which is magical in itself.  What we can’t see are the changes the insect goes through on a cellular level, from larva to pupa and pupa to butterfly. The next photo, taken late at night before the complete metamorphosis, shows the chrysalis clearing to reveal the nearly developed adult butterfly.  The video of the whole process follows.

Chrysalis metamorphosis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Chrysalis metamorphosis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

Watching this process I’ve been wondering if the ‘mind’ of the insect remains intact through the whole process: did it know it was a caterpillar, then a chrysalis before becoming a butterfly? Please watch the following video in HD and full screen for best detail.  To see the butterfly emerge from the chrysalis, skip to the 4:00 minute mark.

Adult butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.
Adult butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Copyright: Greg Joder.

metamorphosis – larva to chrysalis

Queen Butterfly Caterpillar.  Copyright:  Greg Joder
Queen Butterfly Caterpillar. Copyright: Greg Joder

I’ve been keeping an eye on the queen butterfly caterpillars that have been feeding on the milkweed and other plants in my yard.  My wish was to see one go through metamorphosis, changing from a caterpillar into a chrysalis.  After a couple missed attempts I was finally able to capture the transformation on video.  The first part of the video starts at normal speed then into timelapse.  The second part shows the main transformation in normal time.  I recommend watching in fullscreen and in HD: